Black History Month Bowl draws no participation

Thursday, February 28, 2008 | 10:58 p.m. CST; updated 1:04 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Black people have made many contributions to U.S. history, but no one contributed to the attendance of the final event to celebrate Black History Month.

The annual Black History Month Bowl was closed by 7:30 p.m. Thursday, a half hour after it was scheduled to start because no one showed up.

The bowl, arranged by students, may not have been well attended because incorrect information was given about the time and place of the event, said Deniece Christian, who helped students coordinate the event.

There was a National Panhellenic Council meeting also scheduled during the same time of the event. Christian, who said about 40 people showed up last year, said she hopes the mix-ups contributed to the lack of attendance and not a decline in interest in Black History Month.

Devin Cromwell, an MU alumnus, said he planned to attend the event, but accidentally missed it when he lost track of time. When he learned no one came, he shook his head.

“That’s kind of messed up,” Cromwell said. “I think it’s not acceptable by any standards.”

Cromwell has attended the bowl in previous years and said he learned a lot.

Derrick Alexander, a senior nutrition and fitness major, helped set up the room for the event, but said he wouldn’t have attended otherwise.

Alexander said he thinks the idea of a trivia bowl puts one’s intellect on the line. Additionally he feels the event, and others like it, would have been better attended if organizers would relate history to the present.

Celebrating history without tying in current leaders gives a sense that all black heroes are dead and gone, he said. He is heading the Image Awards for the NAACP, MU chapter, where current MU campus student leaders are acknowledged. Alexander hopes the event will attract a large crowd and help people see the relevance of black history to the present.

Nathan Stephens, director of the Black Culture Center hoped that students would see value in the Black History Month Bowl.

“It gives students the chance to know that everything they may need to know, they may not learn in class,” Stephens said, adding that often the history of many minority groups isn’t taught in classrooms.

When students learn about marginalized groups, they gain an understanding of the rest of history, he said.

Stephens mentioned a group of elementary students who came to the Black Culture Center earlier that day to participate in the celebration of Black History. The students dressed up in costumes and talked about many black leaders.

Stephens said the reason the students are so interested is because they are taught the importance of black history by those who take the time out to teach them. He wanted to compare the knowledge of the elementary school students to that of the college students.

But, he didn’t get the chance.

Ideas for increasing attendance included inviting other students from different campuses, targeting specific student organizations and better communication among organizations concerning events.

“If they can use the building for their events, they can support our events,” Christian said.

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